About the song
Are You Lonesome Tonight? is a song that has a long and fascinating history. It was written in 1926 by Roy Turk and Lou Handman, two songwriters who worked in the Tin Pan Alley era of American music. The song was first recorded and popularized by various artists in 1927, such as Charles Hart, Vaughn De Leath, and Henry Burr. The song has a melancholic melody and lyrics, and a spoken bridge that compares love to a play.
The song was revived in 1950 by Al Jolson, a famous singer and actor who starred in the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer. Jolson’s version was also used in the 1959 biographical film Jolson Sings Again. Another revival came in 1960, when Elvis Presley recorded the song at the suggestion of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker’s wife, Marie Mott, loved the song and wanted Elvis to sing it for her.
Elvis recorded the song on April 4, 1960, after returning from his two-year service in the United States Army. He recorded it in one take, with a lot of echo added by the engineer Bill Porter. The song was released in November 1960 and became a huge hit for Elvis, reaching number one on both the US and UK charts. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance by a Male Artist in 1961.
Elvis’ version of Are You Lonesome Tonight? is considered one of his most emotional and personal songs. He often performed it live, sometimes changing the words or laughing during the spoken bridge. One of his most famous live performances was on August 26, 1969, when he cracked up after singing “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?” The female backing singer who kept singing while Elvis laughed was Cissy Houston, the mother of Whitney Houston.
Are You Lonesome Tonight? is a song that has touched many generations of listeners with its haunting melody and poignant lyrics. It is a song that reflects the loneliness and longing that everyone can feel at some point in their lives.